Sunday, June 27, 2010

Backyard Do-Over - Beginning To End!

For the past year, we have been doing a complete renovation of our backyard. This is the post that gives you an idea from start to finish what we did and how it looked and now looks. Our yard was a lovely yard, with trees, bushes, a dry creek bed running throughout with lots of rocks (the big rocks cemented in), and a very small manicured lawn that took less than five minutes to mow. It was very picturesque, but not a kid-friendly yard. It also required a lot of maintenance!

These first few pictures are from a few years ago to give you an idea of what it used to look like. (You can notice the cute kids as well...:)

Here are two of the three Liquid Amber trees that were in our yard; great shade trees, but very messy because they dropped "pokey balls" everywhere! Also, the root system was very dense and spread throughout the yard, damaging our porch and coming up through the grass.

Here is a small portion of the rock creek bed that ran all around the yard.

The other tree, and more rock....

More rock and bushes throughout...

Brian took a sledge hammer to the entire creek bed, breaking it up. Then over the next few months, we carried the rock over to the far side of the yard. When we were ready to get rid of it, we invited the Fletcher's and all their big boys to come and help us load up. Then men formed an assembly line...

Here was Jason Clarke with his truck where they tossed the rock.

Conner, Brian and Mark handing off rocks.

Seven truck-loads that day! It was very tiring for them loading up the truck, driving to the Fletcher's and then unloading all the rock! Doing that seven times made for a very long day! Even then, that did not get rid of all the rocks, just the biggest ones. It took quite a long time to get rid of all the small ones!

Next came the chopping down of the three trees. This was very nerve-racking for me because the trees were quite tall, and I was afraid of home damage, fence damage, and worst of all - body damage of Brian or Russ...our wonderful friend who helped get these trees down. Thank goodness for Russ, who had done this many times before and lent his expertise in helping us!


All three trees came down without any problem at all! To me, it was a miracle and an answer to the many prayers I was praying the whole time they were working on them!

Here is Russ working on one of the trunks.

Here is the HUGE pile of debris that we had to haul out to the street. The kids were great helpers!

This picture actually skips quite a few steps. After getting the trees down, there was the stump removal with a stump grinder (that was a nightmare!), digging the roots throughout the yard, removing the old sprinkler system, getting rid of all the weeds that had taken over the entire yard, roto-tilling, and then leveling it. Most of that was done by Brian and an incredible friend, Brent Last, who spent many a Saturday working alongside Brian. This picture was taken after Brian and Brent planned out the new sprinkler system and mapped it out with spray paint.

Here are the supplies for our new sprinkler system.

Here is more of the mapping out of the sprinkler system.

Here are the trenches dug for the pipes.

Look at those beautiful control valves!

And look at those beautiful pipes!!!

Ok, so I again skipped a few checking the sprinklers, covering them up, leveling the yard again and laying down compost to help the grass grow. We decided to seed the lawn, and within two weeks we started seeing this beautiful green coming through the dirt!

Here is the grass at it's early stages...not much....but so exciting to see color out there instead of brown dirt!

Ok....drum it is! After the first mowing! Isn't it gorgeous?

Another view...

I can't take enough pictures of this beautiful grass!

Here is the view from our sliding glass door...nothing but green! I can't say how much I love this yard! Nothing but grass and a small area for a garden! Now my children can run around without tripping over rocks! Now we can throw a tennis ball to our dog and she has room to chase it! Now we can spread our blanket out and have a picnic or read a good book together! Now we can run through the sprinklers without tripping. I LOVE THIS YARD!!!
To end this very long post, I can't say enough about how proud I am of Brian! He did this whole project over the span of about 1 year without any professional help! With the help of some very dear friends, we turned our yard around, a task that I thought was pretty near impossible. He gained lots of experience through this, and lots more muscles!
Now, I'm going to go run my bare feet through the grass.....

Sugar Pine Railroad

The day after school got out, we went to ride the Sugar Pine Rail Road Train. It is located in a beautiful wooded/mountainous area around Oakhurst.

Here is Daniel waiting for the train to start.

Cute Rachel eagerly waiting...

Cute kids looking at the beautiful scenery.

Here is the front of the train. It is pretty old and runs on steam.

Rachel and Daniel posing in front of the train.

Here we are at the half way point. We all got out and wandered around the woods while the train engineers got the train ready for the return trip.

In front of the Ticket Office.

After the train ride, we hopped back in the car and drove to Bass Lake. It was such a beautiful day! It was so fun to be together relaxing, knowing that the stress of the school year was now behind us!


Rachel and Daniel sitting on the pier coolin' off in the water.
What a great day and fun way to start off our summer!!!

End of the School Year - Rachel

Rachel had a great year this year as a fifth grader. She kept herself very busy with Choir and Orchestra. Rachel is a beautiful, talented, artistic girl. We are so proud of all her accomplishments!

This is a beautiful picture I snapped of Rachel one day.
Here she is at her end-of-the year concert playing her violin. She did a great job with her songs!

Her choir performance was so great! They did a collection of The Beatles songs, and it was so fun to see them all really getting into their songs. She is very expressive when she sings!

More of her singing with the choir.

Here she is at Blackbeard's going down the water slide. All of the choir, orchestra, band and percussion went there and we spent the day playing! It was so fun!

Rachel received a very special award at the Award's Assembly. We did not know she was getting this, and therefore we were not there. This award was for "Outstanding Fifth Grade Girl" in choir. She was the only girl given this plaque, and it is so beautiful! She was so excited! (If you can't tell by her face!) She loves to sing and really has a beautiful voice.

Here is Rachel's last-day-of-school picture taken by "the sign." I remember finding a picture recently of the last day of school her kindergarten year and she only came up about halfway to the bottom of the sign. She has grown so much! We are so proud of you, Rachel! YOU ROCK!

End of the School Year - Daniel

Daniel had a great 3rd grade year. He worked really hard all year and really excelled in his school work. He ended the year with a 4.0 which he (and us) was so proud of!

Here he is with his Principal's Honor Roll (4.0) Award certificate.
Daniel and his teacher, Mr. Piccolo. He was a great teacher who really pushed Daniel to perform his very best in all areas!

Here is his last day of school pic....taken the same place as the first day of school. It is our tradition to take pictures at "the sign" so I can see how much they have grown during the year.
Daniel is excited for summer, but sad to have the year end. He loves school and loves his friends. Great job Daniel! We are so proud of you!